Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Larrea tridentata trichomes

I haven't posted on the Larrea Tridentata (creosote) lately and would hate for you to think I'm waning in my enthusiasm. I took the photo below off the back porch. There was a small, accidental depression in the sand in which a small gang of creosote trichomes were congregating.

After the petals fall from the larrea flower, the seed develops, covered with a fine feathering of bright white hair, something like a pussy willow. In the rising or setting sun the seeds glow like small crystals.

Finches eat the seeds, and other animals eat the seeds, surely. But a good many fall to the ground and these roll on the stiff hairs across the desert floor catching in depressions such as this, that the wind might cover with sand, leading to germination.

Last weekend I watched big black ants try to carry larrea trichomes to their dens. It was very windy and they'd tumble backwards hanging onto their quarry for dear life, and turn around to try again. I don't know what they use the trichomes for - food or something else but all the ants were carrying them. Again, the trichomes are buried in the sandy soil by the ants, where they can wait for water that will bring them to life.

The larrea has a complex relationship with the flora and auna of the desert, and with the desert itself. It is a village elder, sheltering, feeding, working with the other denizens for mutual survival.